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New skull-meister

Specialist anthropologist A.A. Movosesyan from the University of Moscow believes that variations in the structure of the human skull present a valuable source of information on the gene pool of fossil populations.

Each skull has a multitude of characteristic and easily distinguishable indices. As the features of the structure of the skull are genetically defined, the set of indices helps us to judge the gene pool of its owner, while the frequency with which a certain feature is encountered reflects the genetic features peculiar to the given population. In this instance it is possible to compile a picture of the genetic diversity of populations, including those in fossil form, and of their relationships, without resorting to molecular methods, making it essentially simpler and less expensive.

The researchers collected and described 3475 skulls from the representatives of 62 of the world’s peoples, in different anthropological museums. They conducted their analysis over 35 indices and the level of interethical diversity they obtained is comparable with the already known level of genetic diversity. Therefore, believe the scientists, the indices of the structure of the bones of the skull present a reliable source of information, of particular value when bones are all that remain of the peoples being studied.